Philosophically speaking a lot of people find eating cats and dogs acceptable. I can really understand their argument. Although for me it is a horrible habit, a totally unacceptable activity. Perhaps my response is too emotional and illogical. If I was a vegetarian I could complain about people eating cat and dog meat. But if I eat chicken and sausages I am open to criticism for being hypocritical for complaining about people eating cat and dog meat. I accept that.
Why is Switzerland out of step with Europe? Or is it?
The Swiss seem to be a little out of step with the rest of Europe in their relationship with animals. Not only do some farmers routinely eat cat and dog meat, there still seems to be a dog and cat fur trade in Switzerland. I was under the impression it had been banned under some sort of European Union (EU) agreement. Switzerland does have a close relationship with the EU in the form of various treaties even though they are not in the EU. Both eating cats and dogs and trading in their fur is the sort of thing we see happening in Asia, particularly China and Vietnam but not in Europe. I believe that both are banned in the EU.
I think I have to stress that this is not a widespread practice in Switzerland, as I understand it. Importantly, the cat and dog meat is not sold as a commercial product. The dog or cat is killed by the farmer who then eats the meat. It is a private affair. That is what we are told.
It is quite legal to do that in Switzerland provided the animal is killed humanely. Killing an animal in a cruel way would be a crime. That raises the first issue; do these farmers kill their dogs and cats humanely? Some might not. If they are in remote places and it is done privately who is going to know? How can the laws on animal cruelty be enforced when there are no witnesses to the crime and no bodies, as they are eaten?
It is the philosophical side of the process that is the most interesting, other than finding an answer to the question “Why are the Swiss involved with this sort of thing?” Switzerland is one of the world’s most successful countries. Very refined etc. But is eating cat and dog meat an unrefined or uncivilized activity? I expect PoC’s reporter in Switzerland, Marc, to find some answers.
Eating cats and dogs: no difference to pigs etc.
The argument that it is alright to eat cats and dogs is based on the fact that we eat rabbits, cows and pigs. Sometimes these animals are pets too. What is the difference? How can animal rights people and cat lovers complain bitterly about eating cat meat? It is very difficult to deliver a counter argument to that particular justification for the acceptability of eating cats and dogs.
And, yet, for most people, it still feels very wrong to eat cat and dog meat despite the logical reasoning behind justifying it.
Type of Person
I would argue that there are three types of people in this context:
- People who believe that animals are no different to vegetables in respect of food for human consumption…”There is no difference between a carrot, cow or dog. If it moves, eat it!”
- People who eat cat and dog meat while aware of the general view that it is unacceptable. They rationalise it as stated above: no different to eating a pig for example.
- People who find the consumption of cat and dog meat an immoral and cruel activity. This is probably an emotional response.
Why does it feel wrong to most people to eat cats and dogs?
You have to tap into the deepest part of your brain to find an answer. I believe the answer is as stated by Charlotte from Carolina, USA. She is smart. She refers to dogs but the same argument obviously applies to cats. She commented on the newspaper article.
I’ll tell you the difference, it’s quite simple. Dogs are BRED to be man’s best friend. They trust us, love us unconditionally, help fight our wars, lead the blind, sniff out drugs at airports, comfort trauma victims, sleep in our beds, are literally innately designed in their DNA to Trust People. To kill them for food is the ultimate betrayal. Seriously? Who really believes that dogs are “no different than other animals?”
The point she makes so strongly is that dogs and cats are meant to be our companions. All of them. Sometimes, rarely, cows and pigs are pets. But dogs and cats are companion animals. It is as simple as that. There are unwritten rules governing the relationship and the rules categorically do not include killing and eating your companion animal as that activity is in direct opposition to the whole purpose of the relationship: mutual friendship and support. It is a betrayal of our relationship with a cat or dog to kill him and eat him.
Yes, it is an emotional response but emotions are very important to us. They are integral to our lives. They give us feelings and feelings guide us on all manner of aspects of living.
Stray and feral cats and dogs
Feral cats and dogs weaken the companion animal argument outlined above. The presence of millions of feral cats and dogs dilutes their value and importance in the eyes of many people.
Eating a Carnivore
There is one last issue that I find interesting. When a person eats a cat they eat a carnivore; one of the greatest predator carnivores on the planet. When we eat a cow we eat a herbivore. Is the difference significant? In the wild, lions kill cheetahs, sometimes, or hyenas. That is an example of a carnivore killing a carnivore but the lion does not eat the cheetah or the hyena. The lion is removing competition. The lion eats herbivores. Is there something unnatural and inherently unhealthy in humans eating a carnivore? I have no thoughts on that at this time.